“We’re excited to be part of this important trial with UCLA,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “This program will help reduce HIV transmissions in our city and provide related health services to those in need.”
The study is a two-arm, randomized, controlled trial. People who agree to participate and are eligible are randomly chosen to either receive care at the mobile unit or receive peer navigation to community-based facilities. Participants receive these services for 26 weeks. The mobile unit provides medications for opioid use disorder, medications for treatment or prevention of HIV, as well as care for sexually transmitted infections and hepatitis C and pertinent vaccinations. Participants in the active control arm receive navigation to these services in community-based facilities.
This newest partnership is part of the City’s commitment to ending the HIV epidemic through the Long Beach HIV/STD Strategy 2019-2022 by identifying opportunities to collaborate to reduce new HIV infection among injection drug users, as well as providing linkages to care for HIV and STD treatment for those newly diagnosed. The City’s Homeless Services Division has observed an increased presence of fentanyl, a powerful opioid used to treat severe pain, among communities experiencing homelessness. This may be fueling the increase in drug overdose, as more people are mixing fentanyl with other illegal substances such as methamphetamine.
The trial, formally called HPTN 094, is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The study is exploring whether delivering integrated health services through mobile clinics can improve HIV and substance use outcomes among people with opioid use disorder who inject drugs as opposed to providing care from non-mobile, traditional brick and mortar facilities. The study is being conducted in five cities: Los Angeles (Long Beach), New York (Bronx/Harlem), Philadelphia, Houston and Washington, D.C. Locally, the study is being conducted locally by Dr. David Goodman-Meza from the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine.
“Everybody on the ground has been very supportive, stating that it is great to bring services to where people are, and that a project like this is incredibly needed,” said Dr. Goodman-Meza. The study started out in the field on June 14, 2021, and the study team is currently operating on Mondays through Wednesdays at the MSC while working with the MSC outreach team and other local HIV and substance use providers to identify a second location in Long Beach for the unit.